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Letters to the Editor

‘Controversy’ response

David Grow April 27th, 2011

Steve Kern (Commentary, “Counterpoint: Scrutinizing science,” April 13, Gazette) could not have provided a better example of why “teach the controversy” and “valid” criticisms of evolution have no legitimate place in science classrooms.

He says “Innovation is the product of investigation.” Well, no. Knowledge is the product of investigation. Let’s investigate and apply some critical thinking to the Rev. Kern’s comments.

He suggests something is deliberately off-limits when it comes to investigating evolution and that all “junk DNA” has function. He insinuates science misunderstands “junk” DNA and assumptions have limited research in this area.

He is wrong. Scientists have long known that some noncoding DNA has wide-ranging function. Research shows, however, extensive sections of noncoding DNA — dead genes — that are known to have no function. Mapping and comparing genomes among species, including noncoding DNA, is one of the most vigorous areas of genetic research. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of papers are published every year in this rapidly expanding area of research. Nothing is off-limits and the data support evolution.

DNA has been referred to as the ultimate forensic record of evolution. In fact, it is the very “junk DNA” that Kern offers to cast doubts on evolution that provides us with some of the strongest evidence for evolution. For just one simplified example, we inherit our DNA, even the dead genes, from our ancestors. Nearly all species of mammals have genes for manufacturing vitamin C, including humans and the great apes. But, in humans and great apes one gene, exactly the same gene in each, does not function. Why would an omnipotent designer put exactly the same nonfunctional gene in us and the great apes? Rigorous scientific investigation explains that we and the great apes inherited it from a common ancestor. There are many more examples.

There are no “empirical scientific studies” “verified by credentialed scientists” casting doubt on evolution that have survived honest critical analysis by the scientific community. Not one. The reverend’s comments are either significantly ignorant of the current science, or they are dishonestly misrepresentative to forward a narrow religious agenda. Yes, let’s teach our kids critical thinking! But is this the quality of scholarship Rev. Kern is proposing? This is exactly why scientists and many other people vigorously oppose permitting this foolishness in the classroom.

—David Grow

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04.27.2011 at 07:18 Reply

Careful, the good Rev. doesn't like facts.  He's gonna sprinkle his fairy dust on you and call you a convert.  Either that, or his wife will call you a homo and treat you like an ape.  Cause ya know, Jesus was about about treating other like total $*&%.

But I digress.